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Delhi archdiocese to help riot-hit Indian state

Earlier, Bangalore archdiocese came forward to rebuild the lives of college and school-going students from Manipur
Archbishop Anil Joseph Couto of Delhi (seated third from left) poses for a group photo at a workshop of migrants in New Delhi on June 16

Archbishop Anil Joseph Couto of Delhi (seated third from left) poses for a group photo at a workshop of migrants in New Delhi on June 16 (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj).

Published: June 19, 2023 11:35 AM GMT
Updated: June 19, 2023 12:30 PM GMT

Another Catholic archdiocese has announced aid to the riot-hit northeastern Indian state of Manipur where tribal Christians are being targeted by the majority Hindu community since May 3, killing more than 100 people.

“It is our duty and obligation to help and support our people who have been suffering due to their faith and identity in Manipur. Our solidarity is with them and the archdiocese has decided to help in all possible ways available,” Archbishop Anil Joseph Couto of Delhi said on June 16.

On June 12, Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore in southern India welcomed nearly 70 students from the northeastern state to the archdiocesan pastoral center and assured to rebuild the shattered lives of college and school-going students from the strife-torn state. 

Addressing a workshop, organized by the diocesan commission for migrants in the national capital New Delhi, Archbishop Couto said that “our first priority at this juncture is to provide immediate relief materials.”

We have 480 units of community groups in all parishes. Our volunteers will help collect donations, dry rations and other materials to send them to Manipur, the prelate said.

He voiced concern for the people from Manipur who are stranded in the national capital and promised them support for health and education.

Around 50 people, including priests, nuns and stakeholders, participated in the workshop at the archbishop’s house, which was also attended by Auxiliary Bishop Deepak Valerian Tauro

The violence started in India’s hilly state when tribal people protested against the demand for inclusion of the state’s Meitei Hindu community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category to get benefits under India’s affirmative action program following an April 19 directive by the Manipur High Court, the top court in the state. 

Most Kuki tribal people are Christian, while most Meiteis are Hindus, though a few of them are Christians too. The Meiteis make up 53 percent of Manipur’s 3.2 million population.

A mass rally organized on May 3 by the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur turned violent when the demonstrators clashed with a group of people.  Since then, more than 100 people have lost their lives and 250 churches and 17 temples were ransacked.

The government has imposed a curfew in 11 districts and banned internet services to stop the spread of rumors.

Thomas Ngaihte, a member of the northeastern Catholic community in Delhi who is co-ordinating relief work for Manipur, told UCA News that “we have been taking care of 250 Catholics who fled Manipur to the national capital with food, shelter and medical care. 

Ngaihte, a Kuki tribal Christian from Manipur, thanked the Archdiocese of Delhi for the goodwill gesture.

Tommy Monsang, who hails from northeastern India, said that the biggest challenge is reaching out to the affected areas in the state because there is no end in sight to the ongoing fighting and arson.

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